Learning meditative/yogic arts in the West

The vast majority of meditative, and yogic, practitioners in the West obtain their training from Eastern sources primarily out of China, India, Japan, Thailand and Tibet.[1] While many practitioners of these systems have decades of experience, learning from these systems comes with three primary limitations. The limitations generally stem from language, culture and protection of a specific brand. The combined shortcomings limit the success rate of practitioners. Additionally, these issues directly limit the ability to research safer and more time efficient methodologies.

Asian languages often use multiple possible definitions for a single term and, as a result, are highly context driven. The term jing from Chinese can refer to about half a dozen things ranging from medicine to martial phenomena. Likewise, Mandarin has no word for yes or no. Imparting the correct meaning to a student who speaks the language fluently is difficult. When dealing with a scenario where the student and teacher speak different native languages, expressing the right context for a given term is much harder. Western students are severely challenged by the fact that all of the meditative terms indigenous to their languages are archaic, come from the older forms of Latin and Greek, or were actively suppressed between the Inquisition and the Scientific Revolution.[2]

The clash of cultures frequently derails the training of the most gifted of students when paired with the most giving of teachers. Culture, and this includes religion, provides the fundamental operating system for human beings. Some societies utilize the most up to date virus protected version of Apple OS and others utilize DOS 1.0. It stems from the fact that out of all of God’s creatures, human beings are the only living creatures for whom belief directly impacts what parts of reality are perceived and can be manipulated. While a cow may see a fence and not understand what the fence is, it still sees the fence. Human beings routinely die when initially exposed to lethal violence as they cannot accept the fact that someone is trying to kill them.

Multiculturalism and the accompanying belief that all cultures utilize reason, logic and self-criticism additionally handicap Western students severely. Not all cultures are equally good at performing a given task and not all cultures utilize reason and logic as their primary decision making system. Traditionally cultured Chinese people largely rely upon precedent for decision making and this why they will go to exhaustive lengths to prove that someone in the past came up with the solution they are utilizing to solve a given problem. For this reason, many Chinese martial arts are associated with Wudan Mountain or Shaolin temple. Additionally, few cultures outside the Anglosphere and Western Europe utilize self-criticism to determine flaws in their decision making process. This is one of many reasons why mistakes can be made over and over again in most cultures without being fixed. The meditative process suffers from this as well as certain techniques are well known to break people and little effort is made to fix them.[3]

Western students need to understand, and come to terms with, the fact that not everyone thinks in the same manner or uses their operating system to make decisions. Specifically, when using older meditative, or esoteric, texts from the West this also proves true. The world view of a medieval religious meditator is radically different from a post 21st century graduate student in English literature. For this reason, many of the older meditative texts are useless for deriving practice methodology in the modern era. Encounters with the egregore [4] associated with these methods can be extremely disturbing and unbalancing for that reason alone. Human behavior in the past was frequently much more primal in nature, but keep in mind this does not mean primitive. The World War II generation and their parents were keenly aware of this, despite the fact that this way of looking at the world has been actively suppressed in the name of political correctness during the later quarter of the 20th century. Manifesting the god-forms of pagan religions is bloody stupid. Don’t do it.

Limits placed on the transmission of technique, due to a desire to protect a system of training from outsiders, is one of the more unpleasant aspects of the meditative and yogic arts.[5] Traditionally this is done to “protect” the methods that actually work from falling into the hands of ill-intentioned people. The reality is that these techniques work for murderers, rapists, and thieves as well as the people normally associated with more benevolent behavior. A quick survey of fallen cult leaders on the internet will confirm that being a good person is not necessary to successfully engage in the meditative arts.

Continuing to follow this line of thinking is inappropriate in a modern setting. While many of these techniques would have granted one human being a decisive advantage over another 900 years ago, modern technology renders many of the meditative, and yogic, abilities into parlor tricks.[6] The real reason behind most of these limitations today comes from a desire to protect a brand, which goes back to the issue of making money and a living.

For example, the youngest arhants[7] in Thailand are typically about 28-30 years of age. If you take vows at 18 years old this represents about 10-12 years consisting of several hours a day worth of practice. In the event you have access to all of the techniques required, anyone with a little natural ability, and a potent work ethic, can pull this off. Just don’t expect anyone from an outside organization to thank you for it or recognize your achievement.

So why do all of these organizations talk about enlightenment taking lifetimes? Because they do not want people from outside their organizations to succeed. In short, monks will go out of their way to not help if you are having problems with this stuff, unless you decide to join their club. Approaching the meditative arts from this direction stagnates development, leads to many people being harmed through the use of improper technique and generally reduces the odds of success.

My upcoming book on meditative/yogic development is an attempt to address the problem. By providing names, and definitions, to meditative phenomena a practitioner can then better determine how these things fit together. With a working template, or structure, applied to these energies progress should occur much quicker with fewer problems along the way.

[1] Exceptions to this come from Golden Dawn derived techniques out of the UK, Franz Bardon derived techniques out of Central Europe and some shamanistic traditions from Native/indigenous cultures. However, these systems and techniques make up a minority of those methods used by Western practitioners.

[2] During the Inquisition period of Western Europe meditative, and yogic, techniques that were commonly practiced up until the end of the 15th century AD were effective banned in the beginning of the 16th century AD and could result in a practitioner being labeled a heretic along with all of the associated punishments. Later on during the Scientific Revolution even the terms used earlier, such as ether/egregore/etc, were removed from popular usage. It is hard to identify something that you have no word for. Both the Inquisition and the Scientific Revolution had as much to do with actively altering the belief system used by people as they did with the laws of man and nature.

[3] Aggressive breath retention and energy packing exercises being two of the more common methods that can result in heart attack, insanity, nervous breakdown, and stroke.

[4] Egregore (also egregor) is an occult concept representing a “thought form” or “collective group mind”, an autonomous psychic entity made up of, and influencing, the thoughts of a group of people. Groupthink is the closest modern term in use to egregore and is much more limited in what it can explain.

[5] While a gross generalization, the following differences exist between what a Western person can expect to learn from the following cultures: (1) the Indians will give you very little in the way of technique without years of submission and quite possibly still explain nothing in the end; (2) the Chinese will give you about half of what they know unless you are designated the lineage holder and this is true for other Chinese people as well; (3) the Tibetans, and the Thais, will give you complete training if you become a renunciate; (4) the Japanese will give you everything if you join their organizations and get the appropriate qualifications/certifications. All of these assume you actually go to the respective countries, live there for several years and speak their language very well.

[6] Telepathy is great, but a cellphone is much easier to use. Having a body temperature that renders you immune to bacterial infection just makes you fat when you have access to antibiotics. Finally, smashing bricks with your hand doesn’t really matter when a truckload of adolescents fucked off on khat can be equipped with shotguns for $500.

[7] An arhant is an individual who has achieved the supreme level of enlightenment in the Theraveda school of Buddhism. This is normally associated with immunity to karma and a host of other phenomena.

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